I am not, nor will I ever be, someone who sits down and spends huge amounts of time creating a full-on calendar with daily schedules for the entire school year. Lesson plan, schemesson plan. I’m not one to have a fixed routine (unless morning coffee counts). I like flexibility. And I’ve never wanted to replicate The Classroom, but I’m also not an Unschooler.
At the same time, I like having a little sanity.
Kid 1 and I had finally found a good rhythm and then BAM…Kid 2 was added to the mix. After a few months of pulling my hair out trying to manage both without any kind of schedule, I realized I needed to start using some time management tricks.
Here are some of the resources I used and the process I went through. It wasn’t as painful or overwhelming as I thought it would be, and it has really helped.
Step One: Research What Others Are Doing
I started searching blogs. I’m still in awe at the time and dedication some homeschooling parents put in to planning their year – AND LIVE TO BLOG ABOUT IT! I couldn’t help but wonder if these parents had some special super power.
One blogger in particular seemed to have it completely together with Homeschool Scheduling 101. Even though she she’s put a lot of thought and effort into planning, it doesn’t seem as rigid as I thought having such a plan might make the school year. If you want a very thorough, step-by-step, this is the place to visit.
Having to keep a bunch of records isn’t my thing, but if you want forms for day, week, and quarter scheduling, goals, academic plans, etc. visit this blog. I love a good form or chart and I knew there’d be some form or chart in my future. Again, lots of ideas. (And this may come in handy when High School rolls around but right now makes my head spin.)
Another blogger had a simple weekly assignment planner. Weekly! Now I can do that! This one was for directing an 8th grader’s independent study, but I could take this and make it my own.
Step Two: Take What You Need
After researching, I realized what level of organization we (I) could handle and where we (I) needed some structure. I was having a hard time juggling time between two kids’ work – our school day is very “teacher intensive” because of the curricula we’re using. The kids were having a hard time understanding everything we needed to get accomplished in a day. And there was no real schedule involved.
Did I really need to go all out and schedule and organize everything down to exactly what we’d be doing on April 3rd? No! Crazy-making! K.I.S.S. (In my case, Keep Is Stupid Simple.)
Step Three: Put it Into Action
This is what I came up with. It’s pretty simple, but it’s working.
I wrote down all the subjects and associated curricula, then figured out what the girls could learn together, what could be done in tandem, and what subjects needed individual attention. I figured out how much time I thought we’d need for each subject. That let me figure out when to do what (we don’t hit all subjects every day). This is my “master list.”
I took the Master List and made Monday-Friday chart for both kids with subjects on the left and a grid on the right where I record what they do each day. It also helps me keep up with how many of the 180 mandatory days we’ve been actively learning. Most of the curricula I use is structured around a school year, so when we finish the book, we’re finished for the year, so I’m not that worried about pacing.
I also created a weekly reading record for each of them so we could keep up with which books they’ve read.
I tried a fancy visual schedule for the girls (shakes fist at Pinterest), but ended up just writing a daily list (from the master list) on a white board. They mark through completed subjects as we finish. It’s working well because they can see their progress.
So Far, So Good
I like the flexibility of our “schedule.” Since most of our curricula is already paced for us, it’s a relief that I can forget about that part and just focus on managing our daily time. And, since we have 365 days to work in 180 days worth of work, we can take breaks and slow down when we need to. If we end up under- or over-shooting our pacing, we can adjust as necessary.
My girls are on board with the visual schedule part and I like keeping up with what we actually accomplish. It forces me to realize that yes, we are moving forward. Even on those days that seem like big brick walls.
Fellow homeschoolers – what has worked for you?
See all the posts in this series HERE.
Karen Gann had a marketing communications career in high tech before taking a sharp turn into stay-at-home-momdom and homeschooling. She grew up in the Tennesse Valley, lives in Huntsville, and is wife to the wittiest man alive, mother to two head-strong and independent girls (they're adorable, really), and human caregiver to Gomez the dog. Addictions include Facebook, Pinterest, NYC's Radio Lab, coffee, and politics (not necessarily in that order but sometimes all at the same time). She's a foodie, too.